The Avengers (1998)
A movie predicated on the gamble of how many people want to have sex with Uma Thurman or be charmed by Ralph Fiennes.
I’ve never seen the original but I remember very clearly being tricked into watching this movie. I won’t say by which method. Who can blame a person? They’re like spies but almost superheroes and Connery is bad guy ne supervillain. That’s an important point to be made because this is a sign of the times to come. No longer do we have people as spies but we have heroes, superhuman heroes to fight the battles. Spy movies won’t be able to resist this sea change and protagonists will become progressively more than the mere mortals they protect. Fighting skills are improved even over the sound effect enhanced punches of the past. Gadgets are ubiquitous but the inherent qualities of the hero become greatly amplified no doubt by public consumption of comic book hero movies. It won’t be enough to have everyman movies, they will have to be Cinderella spy movies. I recommend the canonical Justice League storylines for any attempts at analyzing moral authority for superhero fare. Long story short, by placing the spy in above-human abilities, we can safely put them in above-human morality thereby avoiding some very sticky IRL moral/ethical problems. Now follow how that switch in the media twisted this movie towards something it never was. Here we’ve got British agents on the trail of a conspiracy that includes members of their own intelligence organization, revelations of past efforts by said organization and a villain who was once a trusted colleague of said organization. It’s basically a clever rewrite of the classic Avengers storyline utilizing components of Thurman’s offering the previous summer in a fairly well known Schumacher film. Oh, don’t believe me? Same red hair? Shots of her in de Wynter’s hothouse? Remove the drag queen make-up and change the color of her bodysuit then look again. Complicated personal and professional relationship with a man obsessed with winter weather? Shitty fucking movie-making? It’s quite similar, you’ll have to admit.
The general consensus is that this was a bad movie made worse by poor directing and shoddy cutting. I think following the plot isn’t quite as hard to follow as some people exaggerate but it is certainly choppy. All the same, that argument doesn’t redeem 2003’s Daredevil’s director’s cut so I doubt it would improve this one. I don’t think that explains the cartoonish quality of plot-points, dialogue and characters either. I know a lot was cut out but if you see it as is, the only conclusion that can be made is that de Wynter had a crush on Dr. Peel then cloned a fighting fuckbot version of her to use as he sees fit. What other conclusion can you draw? The irony to me is that Fiennes passed on The Saint and then made this one. It’s not the movie it could have been but neither is it the movie it should have been if that makes any sense. But it’s hard to blame them, this was a tipping point in the spy genre and the transitional hybrids never do as well as their predecessors or progeny.
Watch it if you want but be warned, everything (EVERYTHING) is kept at a preteen level and you just very well may be left feeling perhaps a bit unsatisfied.
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
By Edward Lear